Editor’s block, re-visited

I’ve come to wonder if the editor’s block I’ve been struggling with recently might be due in part to the fact that I’m no longer working on these projects on a day-to-day basis. When I originally drafted the stories, and especially during National Novel-Writing Month, I spent part of my life immersed in them, and even when I wasn’t actually writing them I’d often be thinking about what was happening in them and what might happen next. Dipping into them in order to address points here and there according to the notes I made during my previous read-through, I’m no longer engaged with the world I’m trying to write about.

A few years ago, I came to realise that my relatively-recent habit of reading a magazine article whenever I was waiting for a bus or train, or while sitting at a bar after work with nothing else to do, was eating into time that I might otherwise have spent thinking over the next step of my current projects or what new projects I might undertake. So I made a New Year’s Resolution to allow more time for thinking. I still often read magazine articles if there’s a long wait or I don’t have anything else to read while riding public transport, but I otherwise read only during time set aside for relaxation.

I have indeed been doing things other than thinking about my story over the past few weeks. Aside from significantly increasing my hours at Western Sydney University, I’ve put the final touches on a few upcoming publications, I’ve taken on a small programming job, I’ve joined a course in Indonesian, and I’ve found quite a few arts and social events on my calendar. Still, I’m only engaged in 3.5 days of formal work each week and that ought to leave plenty of thinking time even if I attend my Indonesian course one night a week and some other event another night.

So perhaps it’s not so much an issue of time but of priorities or motivation. Picking away at scattered problems in a manuscript is nowhere near so much fun as writing one in the first place, and the glacial progress (as measured by number of words written) is far from inspiring. The fixing of some obscure plot point just isn’t all that attractive to think about compared to all of the other things I could do or think about.

For now, I’ve taken a small break from editing so as to work on some details of A Little Research that have themselves progressed more slowly than they ought to have, and to have a couple of weekends away. When I come back I hope I’ll either find some new editing energy or at least a method of turning my thoughts to the story waiting to be completed.

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